Growth versus sustainability, consumer confidence, retail sales: 5 interesting stats to start your week

We arm you with all the numbers you need to tackle the week ahead.

Two in five consumers favour economic growth over protecting the environment

Over two in five (42%) global consumers believe economic growth must be a priority for their countries, even if it negatively impacts the environment. This represents an increase from the 33% of consumers who believed this in 2020.

The research from Foresight Factory also finds an increase in the number of consumers who are approaching the future with “climate fatalism”. Around three in 10 consumers now agree it’s too late to do anything to counter the effects of climate change.

Consumers are reluctant to make disruptive or costly changes to their lifestyles, the research finds. It predicts that by 2030, less than a third (32%) of global consumers will have chosen an alternative means of transport to flying for environmental reasons, and just 41% will have made home improvements to make their home better suited to climate change or extreme weather.

The research also surveyed global consumers on their attitudes to emerging technologies, such as AI. In the UK specifically, more British consumers believe AI will have a negative impact on their lives (39%) versus a positive effect (28%). US consumers are more evenly split on the issue, with 35% believing the impact will be positive versus 34% who think it will be negative.

For hesitant consumers, the biggest perceived drawback of AI is a loss of human interaction. Around a quarter (25%) of British consumers are concerned about the effect of AI.

Source: Foresight Factory

Consumer confidence is polarised

Amid the ongoing cost of living crisis, consumers are polarised in their attitudes to spending. Over a third (35%) of consumers are looking to decrease discretionary spend over the coming months. A slightly smaller proportion (29%) say the exact opposite, that they expect to increase spending in the coming months.

Meanwhile, around two in five (37%) expect their discretionary spending will remain around the same over the coming months.

Just under a third (29%) expect to spend more on dining out, entertainment and clothing.

While older age groups are more likely to have higher levels of discretionary income, it is actually younger consumers who feel more optimistic about the UK economy and their own finances. Young people aged 18 to 24 feel most optimistic about the UK economy, with 43% feeling upbeat. This compares to less than a quarter (23%) of those aged 45 to 54, and a similar proportion (26%) of those aged 55 to 64.

Two thirds (66%) of 18- to 24-year-olds are optimistic about their financial situation compared to just 42% of those aged 55 to 64.

Source: Visualsoft

Brand strength more important than leadership quality for financial analysts

Financial analysts rank the strength of a company’s brand as being more important than the quality of its leadership, according to research from the IPA and Brand Finance.

Analysts were asked how important various factors were to them in their appraisal of the publicly listed companies they analyse. Strength of brand/marketing (79%) was the factor most cited as “very important” by respondents. A strong brand came ahead of leadership quality (76%), technological innovation (72%) and reported profit (71%) in determining how the City judges companies.

While this suggests brand strength is valued, financial analysts also have a positive attitude toward marketing spend being cut to save money. Over half (52%) of the investors surveyed say they would view a company cutting marketing spend as a “positive cost-saving measure”, with just over a third (36%) viewing it as a “short-term fix with long-term negative consequences”.

Just over a third (37%) of analysts view advertising as an investment, with under a quarter (24%) seeing it as an operating cost. Analysts are most likely to see it as “a bit of both”.

Similarly, analysts are most likely to see promotion as being a mixture of a cost and an investment (48%). However, a larger proportion of analysts see it as an investment (28%) rather than simply an operating cost (23%).

Source: IPA and Brand Finance

IT policies are restraining marketers’ use of emerging technologies

Almost three in five (59%) marketing leaders agree that IT policies at their business are constraining the use of emerging technologies.

The data from Gartner also suggests marketers have a lack of autonomy over the technology they use. More than three-quarters (78%) of respondents say they must select their technology solutions from pre-approved vendors and platforms.

The research seems to signify that IT departments generally are taking on a bigger share of ownership in martech activities than before. The proportion of marketers reporting IT are leading, with marketing in support, or has sole responsibility for, has increased across every martech activity.

Almost eight in 10 (78%) marketing leaders report centralising customer data management within IT teams.

Source: Gartner

UK retail sales slowed in September

Growth in UK retail sales slowed in September as warm weather meant consumers held off on autumnal purchases such as knitwear and coats.

According to the British Retail Consortium (BRC), retail sales growth was 2.7% for September. While this was in line with the three-month average, it was significantly below the 12-month average of 4.2%. It was higher than September 2022’s growth rate of 2.2%.

While food sales increased 7.4% over the three months to September, non-food sales fell by 1.2% in the same period.

“Sales growth in September slowed as the high cost of living continues to bear down on households. Big ticket items such as furniture and electricals performed poorly as consumers limited spending in the face of higher housing, rental and fuel costs,” says BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson.

She adds that the upcoming ‘golden quarter’ is “crucial” for retailers: “They’re investing heavily to support customers and bring prices down,” she claims.

Source: British Retail Consortium (BRC)